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Not all "alcohols" are bad - difference between the good ones and the bad ones

June 28, 2022 3 min read

Not all

Have you heard that alcohol as a hair care ingredient is bad? In some cases, this may be true – but actually, not all alcohols are bad! There are some “good” and some “bad” alcohols when it comes to haircare. Some alcohols can be drying and damaging while others are moisturizing and effective. But ultimately, what’s important is that you know what works for your hair and your lifestyle. 

Here is a rundown of why alcohol is included in hair products, which alcohols are considered bad, which are good, and what to look for in your hair products. 

Why Is There Alcohol in My Hair Products?

Seeing “alcohol” on a product label might cause some concern, and that’s for good reason: there are plenty of alcohols on the market that are drying and damaging to both skin and hair. However, there are “good” alcohols too! Alcohols play an  important role  in hair care products, helping to add slip for detangling, improving the texture of the product, and helping draw moisture to the hair shaft. It’s important to note that these good alcohols, also known as fatty alcohols, are made up of molecules that are too large to penetrate the hair shaft and don’t act as a cleansing agent. 

What Alcohols Are Bad for Hair?

First things first: we rarely dismiss any single ingredient outright because every ingredient has its time and place. Some people may experience great benefits with certain ingredients while others get poor results. Curly hair textures,  for example, tend to get dried out from certain alcohols that evaporate quickly, thereby drying out the curls and causing frizz. 

Short-chain alcohols  are what many consider “bad” alcohols due to their drying effect. They evaporate very quickly, which can help spread products onto your hair, but can also leave your hair dry, frizzy, or even brittle with excessive use. Short-chain alcohols are made up of molecules that are small enough to penetrate the hair shaft, which adds to the potential danger of how drying they are. 

Here are some commonly used short-chain alcohols:

  • Alcohol denat
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Ethanol
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Isopropanol alcohol

If you see these ingredients in your haircare products, there’s no reason to panic just yet! Trial and error is the answer to all hair routines – you have to see what works best for you

What Is Cetyl Alcohol?

Our  Shampoo & Conditioner Bars contain  cetyl alcohol. Widely regarded as safe for personal care use, cetyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that functions as a binding agent. It can act as an emollient, thickener, surfactant, or emulsifier, giving it a broad number of applications. Cetyl alcohol can improve product consistency, cleanse, and soften or smooth skin. You may notice it in your hair products, lotions, or skincare products. As a fatty alcohol, it helps protect skin and improves product texture for a smoother application. In our Shampoo and Conditioner Bars, cetyl alcohol helps create a nice creamy texture, and provides moisturization for your hair and scalp!

Additional Good-for-Hair Alcohols

These fatty alcohols are often included in hair products and won’t dry out your hair:

  • Cetyl alcohol
  • Cetearyl alcohol
  • Lauryl alcohol
  • Stearyl alcohol 

Show Your Hair Some Love

Our Shampoo and Conditioner Bars are (bad) alcohol-free and safe for all hair types. They are curly girl-friendly! Made with gentle, nourishing ingredients, these bars keep your hair clean, soft, and healthy without any drying alcohols. Try them today!